Not to get all Freudian on everyone's ass, but the way our parents speak and act towards each other and themselves definitely seems to impact the way that we end up viewing ourselves and our relationships. If our parents are body positive, then the journey to self love might be way easier to achieve. But [whilst] IF our dads make us change out of "too short" skirts and our moms complain again and again about their own weight, how can we possibly learn to not body police ourselves from an extremely young age and onwards?
I don't blame my parents for how hard it's been learning to love myself. I don't blame my mom for her constant diets or for succumbing to social pressures. I don't blame my dad for wanting me to be safe and not being able to clear the streets of perverts just so I could wear a tiny dress.
But now — as a body positive babe — I know that I will make sure my views and positivity are known to my children. I want my kids to love themselves, and I'm going to take an active role in helping them do so. There are certain lessons in self love that I've taught myself in my 20s, and I know that if I had heard them in my teens, I would've been a lot happier.
1. Appreciate Your Body For What It Does
Regardless of what your body looks like, it does a hell of a lot for you. This isn't about feeling guilty over all of the people out there who have it worse off than you, but rather about celebrating what you're lucky enough to have. Thank your body for letting you jump on beds and run to friends' houses and swim in lakes.
2. Don't Be So Hard On Yourself
The only person who sets expectations on you and your body is usually yourself — so don't set them so high. Don't expect things of yourself that you'd never dream of asking from somebody else.
3. Support Your Friends
If you love your friends and are constantly praising them for their actions, focus on that instead of complaining about people you don't like. This is one surefire way to make positivity surround you from all areas. Constantly finding the flaws in other people will only make you perceive them in yourself.
4. Bodily Changes Are Natural
The amount that your body changes — from weight to skin to hair to face shape to a never-ending barrage of hormones — is obviously a lot to deal with, and I'm so glad I will never have to go through the height of those changes in adolescence again. But when my daughter does? I will try in every way possible to make her feel better and normal about all the bodily shifts she'll no doubt endure.
5. No Person Is Worth Damaging Your Self Worth Over
As Michelle Obama said at Glamour's "The Power Of An Educated Girl" event, "There is no boy cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting your education." And the same rings true for your self worth: There is nobody worth changing or hurting your self image over, regardless of your age.
6. Honesty About One's Appearance Is Important
If my daughter is fat and calls herself as such, I won't lie and tell her that she isn't. But I also won't let her think her body weight lessens her value in any way, and I won't ever perpetuate the myth that being fat is inherently negative.
7. Your Style Will Always Be Accepted
I won't slut shame her, and I won't police her body or how she dresses. Even if I think she looks really stupid and is going to regret that haircut, I'll let her present herself however she wishes.
8. Hold Onto Your Positivity
I hope to surround my future daughter with as much positivity as possible. If she sees me being positive and in love with myself, hopefully she will follow that example.
9. Nobody Is Analyzing You In The Way You Analyze Yourself
This is one inspired directly from my own family. I want my daughter to realize that the way we pick our appearances apart — in excruciating detail and depth — is never something we'd do to anybody else. So she shouldn't ever assume that others are considering her in that way, either. We're all just too hard on ourselves... so hard on ourselves that we often can't be bothered being hard on anyone else.
But wouldn't it be great if we weren't? By trying to instill body positivity in the people we love from a young age, maybe we won't always have to be.